Video Game / Super Mario Bros. 1


The first game in the Super Mario Bros. series, but the fourth game overall that stars Mario, and the game that singlehandedly kicked off the The 8-bit Era of Console Video Games. After appearing in Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., and Wrecking Crew, the Mario Brothers moved on to the game that set loads of standards. Not just for platform games, but any genre that used conventions established in this game.

The general story is that Bowser, the ornery King of the Koopas, has conquered the Mushroom Kingdom and turned all of the subjects into background textures— er, bricks and shrubbery. The Kingdom's Princess is the only one who can revert his dark magic, but he has kidnapped her in order to prevent this. Mario, ever the gallant one, storms each of Bowser's castles looking for her. Unfortunately for Mario (and you), Bowser has several body doubles, and there's no way to tell who's the real one, so it's a long road ahead.

The original game was remade with SNES graphics along with the other NES titles in Super Mario All-Stars. There was also a Game Boy Color version called Super Mario Bros. Deluxe. This included a challenge mode where you had to get a high score, collect 5 red coins, and find the Yoshi egg in each stage; a two-player race mode; badges and other images awarded for achievements; a high-score table; extra utilities and printables; a hidden "You vs. Boo" mode (a one-player version of the two-player game); and a hidden conversion of Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. There was also an arcade game called VS. Super Mario Bros., which was like this game except different in that it was a versus game and also in a few other ways, detailed in the Mario Wiki.

Nobuo Uematsu has stated that the theme music, originally created by Koji Kondo, should be Japan's national anthem.

This game provides examples of:

  • 1-Up: Trope Maker for the collectible kind. The green 1-Up Mushrooms have appeared in almost every other Mario platformer since.
  • Actually a Doombot: The first seven "Bowsers" are actually regular enemies who are somehow disguised as him. Flinging fireballs at the fake Bowsers will reveal their true forms (along with a fat bonus to your score).
  • All There in the Manual: The Koopa are a clan of sorcerers who have brought the Mushroom Kingdom to ruin by transforming its citizens into the bricks you break (and thus the items are "gifts" from the transformed citizens to help you) and various other background objects. The only one who can break this curse is the daughter of the unseen Mushroom Kingnote , Princess Pea..., er "Toadstool"note , which is why Bowser has kidnapped her. This bit of lore was dropped in later games.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent:
    • The Great Giana Sisters. So much that Nintendo actually threatened to sue, causing it to be withdrawn from the shelves. The later Giana Sisters games went through Derivative Differentiation.
    • Sega's Alex Kidd in Miracle World was not such an obvious clone, but still fits the trope (and was correspondingly packaged with or built in later models of the Master System).
  • Always Night: Worlds 3 and 6note .
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: The American instruction manual makes repeated references to enemies being killed. The Japanese manual merely says they are defeated.
  • Animated Adaptation:
  • Antepiece: The game has great level design involving interesting yet accessible setpieces. One tool it'll use is to build up to a complicated setpiece with an "antepiece". For example, in the first level, there's a part with a staircase followed by a pit; jumping up the staircase without falling into the pit, and then getting over the pit, is a rather hard and scary proposition. So there's a part right before it which is mostly the same, except the pit won't kill you. This allows you to practice the setpiece in a safe environment. You can read more and see a picture of this setpiece-antepiece pair here.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • The Game Boy Color port of the game, due to its inevitably smaller screen resolution, allows the player to reorient the screen by pressing up, or pressing select so that the camera view stays fixed ahead of Mario. Likewise, the original game's Ratchet Scrolling has been slightly nerfed in this port so that Mario can slightly backtrack in a level, again to accomodate the smaller view of the screen.
    • Updated Rereleases will play a chime when the correct paths are taken in "maze" levels like 7-4.
  • Art Evolution: According to this Iwata Asks, Miyamoto utilised external illustrators to flesh out his rough pencil sketches since Donkey Kong. When it came time to do this game's (Japanese) package illustrationnote , Miyamoto had to do the art himself, since there was no time left for him to hire a mainstream artist. This was the result. It was Yoichi Kotabe who fleshed out the designs of the characters since then. Notable mention goes to Bowser. Miyamoto himself was aiming for the appearance of an ox for Bowser's design, even though he's supposed to be a turtle. Upon reflection on this, Miyamoto remarked, "I'd been drawing something completely incomprehensible - a turtle's body with an ox's head!" In a Mythology Gag, Midbus, Bowser's rival from Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, more closely resembles an ox, with some boar characteristics thrown in.
  • The Artifact: Mario and Luigi being plumbers and travelling through pipes. This made sense in Mario Bros., which was set in New York's sewers; not so much in the Mushroom Kingdom. However, it became an integral part of the gameplay and setting, and its incongruous nature helped create the series' World of Chaos reputation.
    • Mario being able to hit enemies on top of a block by hitting the block below them (in fact, the whole concept of hitting blocks from below) is a hold over from the gameplay of the original Mario Bros., where it was your only means of attack (Mario couldn't Goomba Stomp in that game, so he had to knock an enemy on their back by hitting the floor below them, allowing him to run up and then knock them off the screen). Fortunately, this managed to fit in with the more flexible play style of this game (it helps that in this game, the move offs an enemy on the spot instead of just stunning them), so it was carried over into future installments.
  • Artifact Title: Super Mario Bros. is a completely different game from the original Mario Bros., most notably lacking the 2P co-op mode from the original (being replaced by an alternating mode instead). As a result, Luigi's presence in the game feels rather thrown in, since it makes no difference whether the second player controls Luigi or another Mario. The sequels would try to remedy this by either: making Luigi into a selectable character with a different play-style (as seen in both versions of Super Mario Bros. 2) or by allowing both players to split the game's stages among themselves and throwing in a minigame version of the original Mario Bros..
  • Ascended Glitch:
    • The multi-coin blocks were reportedly a programming error that was left in because they liked it.
    • The Minus World. On the cartridge version it was a glitch that sent the player to a level that didn't exist; it was only by sheer luck that the level was completely playable (though not finishable). When the game was ported to the Famicom Disk System, the programmers replaced it with completable -1, -2, -3, which were based on other glitched levels in the cartridge.
  • Attract Mode: It features one, and the computer's one of the worst Mario players ever (most likely to minimize spoilers).
  • Bald of Evil: Bowser. Averted in both the original artwork and the Super Mario All-Stars remake.
  • Battle Theme Music: Averted in the original version, played straight in the All-Stars version.
  • Big Bad: Bowser.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: In the story provided by the manual, the word "horsetail" (referring to the plants in the background of some courses) was mistranslated as "horse-hair".
  • Boss Arena Idiocy: You know this one. You touch the axe to destroy the bridge Bowser is on.
  • Bottomless Pits: Everywhere.
  • Breakable Power Up: The Trope Codifier. The Super Mushroom transforms Mario into Super Mario, capable of breaking bricks by jumping into them from below. The Fire Flower transforms either regular Mario or Super Mario into Fire Mario, capable of throwing fireballs. Both powerups act as a Single-Use Shield, and upon being hit Mario reverts to regular Mario, losing the abilities granted him by the powerups.
  • Bubbly Clouds: The "Coin Heaven" bonus areas.
  • Cheat Code: If you get a Game Over, press Start while holding down the A button to start at the world you died in. Mercifully, if you forget which button and try pressing Start while holding B, nothing happens.
  • Cheated Angle: In the original game, the Mario Bros. always have their head to the side they're walking towards, even when they aren't moving and the rest of their body is facing the screen. The only time they ever fully face the viewer is if they're dying.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: See Gameplay and Story Segregation below.
  • Collision Damage: All of the enemies deal this to you. Getting a Star lets you do this to the enemies instead.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Red mushrooms (extra hit point) vs. green (1-Up), red Koopas (they patrol specific areas) vs. green (they come straight at you).
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: There's no difference between Mario and Luigi in terms of playability.
  • Color Contrast: Basic color contrasts such as Blue, red green and brown contrasts are abundant (the grass and water levels), sometimes with black and grey (the underground and snow levels) or red, black and grey (the Castles). The NES had an extremely limited color palette and they had very little memory to work with on the game.
  • Cut-and-Paste Environments: The game only had 40 KB of memory, so they used repeating patterns three screens wide for decorative backgrounds such as hills and clouds. It also reused about two models for castle exteriors (small and large). On top of that, 5 entire levels were reused, as well as World 4-4 and 7-4 which would actually loop if the player takes the wrong path, and they used the exact same sprite for the clouds and bushes the only difference being the clouds were white where as the bushes were green.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: World 6-3, is either this, or simply a representation of snow.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The backstory, All There in the Manual, explains how the Koopa clan transformed the citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom, and only the princess can undo this. Virtually all games never mention this; Super Mario RPG kind of backwards-references it in Peach being the most obvious White Magician Girl of the team, but even there it's more inference than anything. And heck: Peach having the ability to undo Bowser's black magic is the only reason he kidnaps her to begin with. Future games have Bowser kidnap the princess mostly to lure Mario into traps, on those occasions he does even bother with villainy (see again: SMRPG).
    • The game also used Ratchet Scrolling, which prevented players from going back. Most Mario games after this abandoned this type of scrolling for Auto-Scrolling Level in a few places while allowing backtracking in everything else.
    • The timer also ticked away at a much faster pace compared to the later Mario games.
    • Shells cannot be grabbed by holding the B button.
    • When hit in Fire form, Mario goes all the way back down to small form. This was made more generous in later games, most notably the non-Japanese releases version of the original Super Mario Bros. 3.
    • Princess Toadstool has the sprite drawn with red hair and a white dress with red trim- likely using the palette for Toad. Early official artwork also shows her much younger, possibly the age of a child- she wouldn't gain her proper adult appearance in the official art until The Lost Levels.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The FDS version (accidentally) contains Bloopers in the air in World -3, which would made a proper appearance in Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels.
  • Easter Egg:
    • If you wait long enough on the title screen, then a brief demo will start to play.
    • Also, run out of time as Fiery Mario or Star Mario.
  • Elite Mook: Hammer Brothers.
  • Endless Game: Famous for averting it, although technically, you can play the levels again after the ending.
  • Every 10,000 Points/Law of 100: 100 coins equal a 1-Up.
  • Excuse Plot: One of the classic staples of the video game excuse plot, also codifying one of its subtropes in the process; Bowser has kidnapped the princess and is trying to take over the Mushroom Kingdom, and Mario and Luigi have to save the day! Now press start and go save the day!
  • Fireballs: From the Fire Flower, of course.
  • Flying Seafood Special: Cheep Cheeps, which jump out of the water and into the air.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: There is actually only one Buzzy Beetle that can be killed with fireballs in this game. It's disguised as Bowser at the end of World 3-4.
  • Guide Dang It: Each x-1 level has a hidden 1-Up Mushroom in it. Besides the one in 1-1, they only appear if you've gotten all the coins in the previous x-3 level or used a Warp Pipe (e.g. to get the one in 2-1, you need to get all the coins in 1-3).
  • Hard Mode Filler: Some of the later stages. Namely Worlds 5-3, 5-4, 6-4, 7-2, 7-3 and 7-4, which are harder versions of 1-3, 2-4, 1-4, 2-2, 2-3 and 4-4 respectively. In the Vs. arcade version, these harder stages are bumped ahead and replaced with new stages that later formed part of The Lost Levels.
  • Hard Mode Perks: The "hard mode" replaces all Goombas with Buzzy Beetles, which allows the player to get as many lives as they want by having their shells being kicked repeatedly against certain structures, much like a Koopa shell. It also makes clearing a whole row of enemies much easier - stomping a Beetle and kicking it to take out all the others is effortless compared to stomping all Goombas individually.
  • Hitbox Dissonance:
    • Super Mario's hitbox is normally twice as tall as standard Mario's, which makes sense. Crouching eliminates the top half of the hitbox, rendering it the same size as standard Mario's, which also makes sense. Crouching while underwater and then swimming causes Super Mario's hitbox to remain at half-height, causing enemies to pass through his upper half harmlessly, which does not make sense until you realize that you normally stay crouched when you jump this way, but there's no sprite for a crouched swimmer; so what you're actually doing is swimming while crouched, but the lack of sprites causes a visual glitch.
    • Another strange thing related to hitboxes is the game's collision detection. If Mario is rising, he will take damage from hitting an enemy regardless of whether he is on top of the enemy or below it. On the other hand, if he is falling, he will cause damage to the enemy (assuming it's not The Spiny) regardless of whether the enemy is on top or he is. This can be confusing to players who are unfamiliar with the mechanics of the engine, and tool-assisted Speed Runs milk this for all its worth.
  • Idle Animation: Sort of. If you stay in one spot for 30 seconds, with a Hammer Brother nearby, the Hammer Brother will leave its perch, and actively start chasing you. Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels would introduce Hammer Brothers that actively chased the player from their first appearance.
  • Infinite 1-Ups: Line a Koopa shell just right against a staircase at the end of 1-1 or 3-1, and your jumps will turn into a chain reaction, triggering loads of points followed by One Ups.
    • Game-Breaking Bug: But woe to you if you exceed 127 lives, because the life counter will overflow into negative lives, causing your next death to be a Game Over.Details  This was fixed in the Super Mario All-Stars version, which stores the lives in an unsigned integer variable which has a cap of 128 lives.
  • In-Name-Only: Aside from the presence of Mario, Luigi, turtle enemies, and coins, Super Mario Bros really doesn't have anything to do with Mario Bros., although it does have some similar elements (you can still attack enemies from below when they are on brick platforms).
  • Invincibility Power-Up: The Starman and its famous jingle debut here.
  • Jump Physics: The game has very well thought out jump physics, and the level designs were tailored around it. Mario can jump five times his height, can jump farther when running, and he mainstains just enough midair control to cut short a forward jump. Mario holds his momentum for a bit when he's in mid air or lands, even if the d-pad is released. Even if he bumps into a wall in motion, he still holds his momentum and maintains mid air jump control. If he bumps his head into something, it quickly knocks him back down (the cramped Castle levels are specifically designed to use this against you) but it won't stop him from moving.
  • Knight of Cerebus: While the franchise would eventually feature much more wicked villains in the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi games, Bowser is still this compared to Donkey Kong and Foreman Spike. Donkey was an Anti-Villain who was trying to get back at Mario for abusing him, and Spike was a regular human who also happened to be a jerk and a Bad Boss, but Bowser, the draconic Evil Overlord, is genuinely intimidating.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The Princess being in castle number 8. This has become so ingrained in our culture that from every Mario game onward featuring Peach being kidnapped, she'll always appear in World 8.
  • Lethal Lava Land: The castle levels.
  • Level 1 Music Represents: The overworld theme has become the iconic theme of the Mario series, as well as nearly every crossover and non video game appearance Mario has had.
  • Marathon Level: World 8-1 is looooooooooooong. Even harder than making all of the tricky jumps is reaching the end before time runs out!
  • Market-Based Title: Subverted. Copyrights documents (and at least one brochure for the arcade version) suggest that Nintendo originally considered renaming the game Mario's Adventure for the American market, but they decided to keep the original name instead.
  • Minus World: A famous example, coined by Nintendo Power's coverage of the glitch. Japan, meanwhile, discovered even more such worlds through a process that involves swapping out the game's cartridge with Tennis while the console's still running.
  • New Game+: Hard Mode, which you unlock by beating the game once and restarting at the title screen. Both the All-Stars and Deluxe port retain this feature.
  • Nintendo Hard: Although at the lower end compared to other infamously hard games. A main issue is that one-ups are so uncommon; there are exactly 8 hidden one-up blocks in the game, and coins are far less common than in later Mario games, making extra lives in a game with no save feature much more precious to have. The Vs. Arcade version takes this Up to Eleven - you start with only two lives, there is only a single hidden 1up block Details , you need to collect 250 coins to earn an extra life and the infinite lives exploits are removed. As if this wasn't enough, the original levels themselves are much harder; new, super hard levels are added in and warpzones don't take you as far forward as the originals. Even many expert NES Mario players never got past world 6, where they had to take a blind, running jump across a bottomless chasm and bounce off a moving winged koopa onto a safe platform, where neither the Koopa or the safe platform were even on-screen from the jumping point.
  • Pac Man Fever: Lots of sound effects from this game have turned up in children's TV shows, particularly in scenes set at arcades (there were arcade cabinet versions of the game, but it's unlikely any of those writers knew that).
  • Palette Swap: Not just with enemies; the bushes and clouds use the same tiles.
    • Backgrounds, too; Worlds 3 and 6 apparently take place at night.
  • Pipe Maze: World 8-4. The pipes are the key to progressing through the level, and going down the wrong one will send you back to the beginning.
  • Platform Game: Trope Maker and Trope Codifier for many platform tropes.
  • Player Nudge: The dev team was afraid the player would confuse the mushrooms for something hostile and avoid them. To prevent this they structured the first level so that it was nearly impossible to avoid the mushroom after it was spawned, ensuring the players would see it was not harmful when it struck them.
  • Ratchet Scrolling
    • Required by the way levels were stored. Each "object" in the level had a "page select" flag which, when set, told the game to advance one screenful to the right. There was no code for going back one screen, however, and as there could be a variable number of objects per page, the algorithms involved would have been a bit too complicated for the NES, where every byte and every clock cycle counted (and they were already running low on ROM space as it was). So while the game could be told to go to the next screen, there was no way to start loading objects from the previous screen, hence why you can only go right.
    • The Game Boy Color version does allow you to scroll back slightly, but only because the screen is smaller than the NES version's.
  • Rearrange the Song: The Vs. arcade version totally redid the ending theme. In addition, a Hi-Score theme was also added.
  • Save the Princess: And she's in another castle.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Killing Bowser in 8-4 with the fire flower. The actual task isn't hard, but getting to him with that power up, much less getting and keeping the power up in World 8, is one of the hardest challenges in the game.
  • Single-Use Shield: The Super Mushroom and Fire Flower power ups provide this. If Mario gets hit while in big form, he'll automatically revert back to Small Mario instead of dying.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Worlds 3, 5 and 7, although "snow" in this game is just recolored trees and pipes. The All-Stars version of the game improves on this by making the ground actually look snowy.
  • Super Drowning Skills/Super Not-Drowning Skills: Yes, both of them. If you're underwater, nothing aside from the standard timer can stop you from staying under for as long as you want. On the other hand, falling into a pit filled with water doesn't even slow your fall.
  • This Was His True Form: If defeated with fireballs rather than being thrown into the lava, the Bowsers of Worlds 1-7 are revealed to be simple minor enemies which have taken Bowser's form, likely using more of that Koopa Clan magic you only ever hear about in the manual.
  • Timed Mission: Every single level. The timer also counts down faster here than in Mario's later games.
  • Underground Level: World 1-2 and World 4-2.
  • Under the Sea: World 2-2 and World 7-2.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Many parts of the game are much easier as Fire Mario, but if you do get hit, it takes two power-ups to climb back up to Fire status.
  • Updated Re-release:
  • When All Else Fails, Go Right: The Ratchet Scrolling prevents Mario from going left.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: There you have the Trope Namer.